I was expecting a new location to come with some bumps on the road, some things just can't be prepared for until you find out the hard way (but you were well aware of it anyways given the tongue-in-cheek theme for this year ). I'm just gonna share some of the experiences that stuck with me from day to day and finish with some general thoughts.
Check-in went nice and smooth, scanned my ticket and got my badge. Then on to the bag check before we could continue further into the building. My plastic bottle of water was not allowed (unless I threw away the cap) so I chugged it and had to throw it away in its entirety. Big bummer! Unpleasant surprise when I was expecting to be able to bring some water to drink from outside (which was the case at the previous location).
As we moved further into the event halls, I noticed it was warm, really warm. Welp. We went into the locker/bag area to look for the locker desk, the crew volunteers were very friendly and helpful in showing us where to queue up. Unfortunately, that's all we did for the following 45 minutes or so. I suppose there were some start-up/planning issues for the locker desk? The locker desk was located in a slightly unfortunate place too, because by the time the locker desk was manned and ready to provide the services, the queue of people wanting to get their locker code had to cut through the bag room queue in order to get to the desk, so crew had to traffic us in groups in order to prevent a human train wreck they did well though.
Fast-forward to the TeddyLoid that we were looking forward to. I was hype. The performance was actually quite hype too. The crowd was hype. We had a good time there. BUT, the sound, to be quite frank, was awful. The lower frequencies were so incredibly loud (compared to the the other frequencies), that you could barely to not make out differences in tones (there was only uncontrolled rumbling), and the mid+higher frequencies were drowned out and heavily distorted. It detracted from the experience quite a lot for me, sadly.
Day 2. No bottle with me. But later that afternoon a friend got in with a clear plastic bottle that was plain in sight? We were walking together, I saw it happen right in front of me xD so a bit of inconsistency there. But most of security did forbid plastic bottles so I guess it was just a lucky one for my friend.
Anyways, first event was the AMV competition (which I missed the beginning of). Sound was good this time! But of course also considerably less loud so that probably helped. The main stage was considerably cooler than yesterday! So I do believe there had been measures to tackle the heat inside the venue, very nice. The other areas felt a little less warm than on Friday too, although that may have been a bit of placebo. Overall inside of the venue was still a bit warm though, slightly more than I'd prefer.
In the afternoon it was mostly relaxing in the game room and dealer room. I need to make special mention of DDR-Exp here. For me, one of the best things that could happen to the game room. Definitely bring them back again for next year! Their setup was perfect, and the competition they hosted was a lot of fun. All dance pads they had available (six, all of them with a dedicated per-player playfield in the game itself) were nice to play on.
Then on to the big concert of the weekend, Myth & Roid! Everything was super, great to have a place for people to stand and go wild and at the same time plenty of seats for those who want to enjoy it in a more relaxed way. Unfortunately, again, the sound kind of killed it. In a bad way. Same problem as yesterday, the lower freqs drowned out all else and most of the sounds came across as an out-of-tune soup to me, especially given the fact that I didn't know any of the songs they played bar one. A shame considering their music did sound quite nice from what I could make out of it :<
The last event to conclude our Saturday was Deshima Sounds. And somehow, as if by some miracle, the sound was perfect when Deshima Sounds smashed out the tunes. It was LOUD, and it was CLEAN. TeddyLoid played a guest set again during this night and unlike on Friday, I enjoyed the set so much more now that I could actually hear what the music was really like, detailed and not detuned. So that was a blessed finisher. The only downside was the forced volume-lowering after 1AM, which sadly killed it for most people from what I saw when I returned after a little break... regardless the Deshima crew still managed to put out a great party all the way to the end.
We uhhhhh didn't actually do much other than watching Maquia (which was really nice, very happy I had the chance to see it when I hadn't even heard of it until shortly before the weekend) and attending the closing ceremony. Everything went well that day.
Some general thoughts:
Ahoy as a venue is a mixed bag for me, overall it's a very decent venue but as many have already mentioned, the big event halls have a looot less atmosphere and character. I liked the World Forum for its cosy atmosphere. At the same time, Ahoy has made everything much more spacious which is a big plus. The temperature could be a bit better, unlike the main stage most of the other halls were pretty warm. I think the big spot lights played a role there as well.
The food court was very nicely presented. With a little more decorations it could become even more of a wonderful matsuri-like market place, there was certainly a nice effort there. The dealer room has benefitted greatly from the increased space too, nothing felt cramped there now. I loved the increased focus on indie artists and I hope Animecon will continue to grow and nurture this doujin culture for future dealer rooms!
Ideally the venue would be a bit cosier, but the spaciousness was great and it's tough to combine those two at this scale I imagine. I also liked the proximity to Zuidplein, which offered a nice range of options for those who want to slip out for food. So overall I suppose Ahoy wasn't too bad, I'm more about the quality of events and activities than the location itself anyways.
- Ahoy as a venue is less nice in terms of character/atmosphere, but great for everything else and from practical point of view (minus bottles and cans not being allowed). Halls are a bit too warm though.
- Keep up the artist alley / doujin incentive in the dealer room, I loved it and would love to see it expand.
- TeddyLoid was super nice, please continue to invite more electronic dance music artists like that! More J-Core artists from the doujin scene are very welcome too like in 2018!
- Sound quality for music events was awful until Deshima Sounds, attention needs to be paid to the lower freqs and its balance compared to the other frequencies. Deshima Sounds was superb but the forced volume-lowering was a big bummer.
- DDR-Exp at Game Room = big win